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Old 08-15-2008, 08:57 AM   #1
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Default Those Dratted Statistics!

I hardly know where to start, I'm so upset by the statistics that BillyG spoke about in his heartwrenching posts.

Firstly, I wish everyone who even fleetingly considers weight loss should read Anne M Fletchers book Thin for Life -or- in the very least, the 3FC discussion of it posted here

http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/maintenance-library-169/

Then, I'd like to debunk this dismal statistic ... the 98% of weight losers who fail??? I've heard 95% and can think of so many reasons that's not an accurate reflection of what's really going on.

So can you, can't you? We all know successful losers. We all know the vagarities of statistic collecting ....

The first thing that pops to mind is ... who did they ask? And who is they?

Another is ... what's failure? If you meant to lose 40 lbs only lost 20 and maintained that for thirty years, where do you fit in those statistics?

And the dreaded perception ...
Have you tried to lose weight in your lifetime?
Why, yes I have!
Did you lose weight?
Yes, yes I did.
Do you have the body of your dreams now?
Er ... no ....
Aha! Chalk on up for failure ...
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Old 08-15-2008, 09:34 AM   #2
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Thank you for posting this, Susan.

Anyone who looks at a statistic like the one quoted by BillyG and uses it as an excuse not to lose weight never wanted to really lose the weight in the first place. So what if some mystical, vague "they" failed 98% of the time? What does that have to do with YOU or ME? (I'd like to see who funded these studies actually - the sugar industry? The corn industry? Elastic waistband society of America? )

I know I can do it, and so can everyone else who is committed to the cause. It's not easy but it sure isn't impossible, either.
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Old 08-15-2008, 10:28 AM   #3
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I agree totally with both of you! The most important thing I gained from my college statistics class is that all statistics can be skewed-not only by the built-in margin of error, but by the way the researcher asks the questions, whether it's worded positively or negatively, and many other methods that the 'researchers' can actually use to obtain the results they want to see for the point they are trying to make! In some cases, the margin of error is so large that the stat becomes meaningless (think about political polls).

My own statistics show that I have failed on diets 99% of the time, but this time, I AM SUCCEEDING! And, that's the only stat that's important. I'm ready to renounce my membership in the Elastic Waistband Society of America!
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Old 08-15-2008, 10:43 AM   #4
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Statistics... They are just meaningless when it comes to individual cases... Who says that "I" am not in the 2% who are successful? And, who cares what someone shows with numbers? Yes, statistics can be useful--they show that overweight people are much more likely to develop diabetes, for example, so that can be motivation to have a normal weight. But, it doesn't mean that someone of normal weight will not develop diabetes!

Here is my favorite statistics joke:

Three statisticians were at the archery range. One statistician stepped up to the line, drew back the bow, and fired the arrow. It landed 10 feet to the right of the target.

The second statistician took his shot, and the arrow landed 10 feet to the left of the target.

At this point the third statistician got all excited. "We hit it! We hit it!" he yelled.



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Old 08-15-2008, 10:51 AM   #5
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Elastic Waistband Society of America

and Jay's joke
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Old 08-15-2008, 11:08 AM   #6
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I agree, a lot of dismal statistics get thrown around these days -- the success at weight loss statistic, the successful marriage statistic (what is it now, one successful marriage in 11,000,000 or something?). Personally, while I think these kinds of studies can be useful just for general information, as others have said the how, who, when and other such details are often omitted from the ****ALARMING STATISTIC!!!!**** that gets reported on the evening news and quoted over and over again.

I too think that people use these numbers as excuses -- to either stay in a bad situation or to feel a bad outcome is inevitable "Look at those statistics -- no wonder this didn't work out!" AND as an excuse to be passive "If I try to change this bad situation, I won't be successful anyway since so many other people fail, so I might as wel just accept how things are." I'm sure some of that passivity must come from genuine depression, but much of it is also a cloud of failure that surrounds these statistics.

Personally, I think these kinds of statistics are all part of the culture of worry/money currently enveloping the US ... you may have this illness, you may need this drug, 1 in 5 people will be effected by this sickness, 1 in 3 people is obese but according to this statistic only 2% of those who try to lose weight will do so successfully but this medication can help!, this fad diet can keep it off for good!, etc etc etc.

I also think this feeds into the desire for the "miracle cure." Obviously, it's partly just human nature to try to find the easiest/fastest way to achieve a goal and finish something, but I think too that if a person keeps hearing that ONLY 2% of EVERYONE who tries to lose weight does so successfully, it makes it seem like those who are successful must have found some special way to lose the weight -- a miracle happened! -- what diet did they go on? what pill did they take?? Did they just wake up thin one morning? Hearing "eat better foods and fewer calories and exercise regularly" just seems like a crock of poo... and then the weightloss/diet commercials begin, money is wasted, etc.
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Old 08-15-2008, 11:14 AM   #7
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Looking at my own personal statistics, I would say that I have failed 95% of the time, or even more. I've made far more than 100 serious attempts at losing weight.

So, it wouldn't surprise me at all that 95% of those who attempt to lose weight, fail. And I don't assume that I "didn't want it enough," nor that have any of those who may have failed so much they've become sick of trying and have just given up. I nearly did.

People fail for a lot of reasons, and some of them may have nothing to do with "wanting it." Most of what we think we know about weight loss just isn't true, and what we DO know often isn't popular advice. For me, wanting it "too badly," meant trying to do it FAST, even doing crazy, stupid things to lose weight, which just doesn't work in the long term. I could easily never have stumbled upon what HAS worked for me. Changing my birth control, eating lower carb (which I'd always thought too unhealthy to attempt until it was recommended by two different doctors) and most recently being able to get off prednisone a medication that lowers metabolism, causes water retention and extreme hunger (a triple threat to weight loss).

Can "everyone" lose weight, I'm not even going to say yes. I don't know, but I was able to succeed by making those several hundred attempts. Many of them caused more failure than success, and if I could go back and advise my young self, to spare her all of those attempts, I would.

I think it's wise for a person to know the statistics, and carefully consider what they are going to attempt. I strongly believe that each diet (whether you call it a diet or not, each period of "calorie restriction"), particularly if it is extremely low in calorie lowers metabolism, so if a person can increase their odds of success by knowing what does tend to work, and what doesn't that would be emmensely beneficial. The only problem is, that information really isn't available yet, and the way most obesity research is conducted, I don't see it coming down the pike anytime soon. Which leaves us all as lab rat and scientist.

If we ask most people trying to lose weight whether or not they'be been successful, unfortunatly many will say "no," even if they're maintaining a loss, because in their mind it "isn't good enough." We are taught to a large degree, that only perfection counts as success. I think many of us had to throw away the idea of perfection in order to succeed. It's ridiculous to think that if we couldn't lose it all, we might as well gain it all back, and yet that is a common reaction to weight loss.

Ignoring the statistics could make a person think this is easy, and going in with that attitude is preparing you for failure. That doesn't mean it has to be so bone-crushingly difficult that you're miserable every second of the attempt (which many people also believe, so they're afraid to start - or they make it so, and then can't stand the deprivation and misery).

That, I think is why I cringe when I hear "you have to want it badly enough," because that SO implies that the attempt is going to be a test of will - that it is going to be so incredibly miserable and difficult, that only the strongest willed persons will succeed. That takes the air out of many sails. Especially since if you believe that, that' is how you're going to make the attempt. If you're NOT miserable, you're going to think you're doing it wrong.

I think attitides have to change about what success is, and how to go about it, before we see the stats improve. That doesn't make us all failures, it makes us pioneers. We're learning what DOES work, and we're sharing those messages of hope.

HOPE, that's what it really takes to begin to succeed. Not just the kind of hope that says maybe there's a small chance that I might be able to do this, but hope that is strong enough to turn into (with a little work) FAITH - the knowledge that we can do and get what we want. Not just on the scale, but out of life.
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Old 08-15-2008, 11:26 AM   #8
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SusanB, the people who 'fail' by gaining all the weight back are usually uninformed about maintenance. And labelling anything less than perfection as a failure is inaccurate. If I wanted to lose 30 lbs, and only lost 20, I consider that a WIN! Think of it this way, if quitting smoking is so hard, and everyone fails, why can I name 16 people in my near family that have been smoke-free for more than 5 years? Yes, we had to quit more than once for it to keep, but we did it!

BillyG doesn't want to lose weight, he just wanted to poke us with a stick to see if we'd yelp.
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Old 08-15-2008, 11:34 AM   #9
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I think so too. I hope I'm wrong and he's really looking for help and motivation to start a real weightloss attempt, but I don't think so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kofarq View Post
BillyG doesn't want to lose weight, he just wanted to poke us with a stick to see if we'd yelp.
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Old 08-15-2008, 01:15 PM   #10
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I'm glad you bring this up, Susan B. Not that BillyG wasn't entertaining, but I can't help but feel he was poking a little fun at us "losers." Either he is in a really dark place at the moment and feeling like it is all just a waste of time or he was just trying to rile us up (which he did splendidly). I'm curious what your thoughts are on this. By the way, I loved that you had the pluck to ask him what it was he wanted from 3FC.
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Old 08-15-2008, 01:50 PM   #11
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My thoughts on ... ???

As always I was super impressed by the number of 3FCers who wanted better for a Billy even when he 'seemed' to want nothing.

I'm thrilled with the confidence many posters showed. Somebody's doing it, why not me?! Why not you?!

Except on debate team, folks don't argue something they don't feel strongly about. The responses appear to indicate that 3FCers know that weight loss can be done and know that they can do it. Sticking up for what is right.



No man is an island. No one, nobody functions independently from other human beings. They may think they do. They may think they don't care for anyone else nor what anyone else thinks or does. I just don't believe it.
In the very least, his blog and posting here indicate the need for validation. Right or wrong I need someone to agree with me.

If it's true ... that he cares not for family, friends, future, life (quality or quantity) ... that's suicidal ideation and needs professional treatment.

I don't like to doubt people. I don't want to think that Billy is simply yanking our chain. He spent quite a bit of time and thought corresponding last night. Some things he said rang true. I'm hoping he was just in a pretty low place last night. We can help with that and what was gloriously apparent was that we want to.
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Old 08-15-2008, 02:07 PM   #12
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Statistics? Poo on statistics anyway. The only stats I care about right now are the ones I post in my personal log I look at it this way - you know that thing about "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction"? Well, I'm pretty sure that for every *study* there is another *study* that proves the total opposite of the first study
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Old 08-15-2008, 02:09 PM   #13
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Isn't this thread getting a little... um... gossipy? I mean, we're talking about another member as though they aren't here... Who should we discuss next...

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Old 08-15-2008, 02:13 PM   #14
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You Jay ... you're too smart for me

I didn't mean to gossip. Billy G is welcome to come read what I wrote. Some encouraging things have come from that thread.

However .... this thread is supposed to be about how we feel about those statistics.
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Old 08-15-2008, 02:36 PM   #15
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Thanks, SusanB!

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